So you’ve always wanted Android Auto in your car, but you couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) to upgrade the head-unit in your car. With today’s announcement that Android Auto can now be used stand-alone (i.e. without a compatible head-unit in your car), there’s new ways to enjoy Android Auto in any car, provided you’ve got a few bits and pieces to make it work.
We’ve been discussing this development in the Ausdroid offices today, and there’s two leading ways to get Android Auto in your car. Of course, regardless of which option you choose, make sure your phone is in a commercially made phone mount — touching your phone is generally illegal in Australia unless it is properly mounted, and until Google gets ‘OK Google’ voice detection going in Android Auto, which we understand is coming soon, you’ll need to tap your phone on occasion to interact with Android Auto.
Option 1: Simply use your phone
If you’re happy with the size of your phone’s display, you can use Android Auto on your phone and just pop it in an appropriate phone holder. This method doesn’t require anything additional to what you’ve already got, though if you don’t have a decent phone holder in your car, it’s time to address that.
We can recommend a variety of phone holders from the Ausdroid Shop, including this one that fits in your CD slot, this one that sticks to your windscreen or this more affordable option that uses an air-vent. There’s a number of options and what works best for you will depend on what’s in your car, and how you want to set it up.
Of course, using this option means you’re limited to a fairly small screen. If you want a bigger Android Auto interface, read on.
Option 2: Use a tablet, tether to your phone
If you’ve got a Nexus 7 tablet lying around, or indeed, any recent tablet that runs Android 5.0 or higher, here’s a great use for that device: use it for Android Auto in your car. The advantage of using such a tablet is, depending on your level of security, you can probably just leave the tablet in the car and enjoy a much bigger display to navigate Android Auto with.
The downside is that, unless you’ve got a tablet with LTE built-in, you’re going to need to get internet connectivity to that device somehow. The easiest way is probably just using your phone as a portable hotspot, as Android Auto isn’t likely to use a lot of data, depending on how much you talk to it.
If you don’t have one of these tablets, have a search on eBay or Gumtree. Second hand Android tablets don’t cost much, and chances are you’ll be able to find a real bargain on one.
Finding a tablet-mount for your car isn’t much more difficult. The Ausdroid Shop sells some (eg this one or one of these), but you can also find them in most retail accessory stores like JB HiFi, for example.
Personally, I’ll probably just use my phone because I don’t need a giant display, and I also don’t have a smaller 7-inch tablet available to use (I lost mine on a Qantas flight.. woops). If you do have a tablet, though, you might find the user experience much more enjoyable.
Are you going to find a way to hack Android Auto into your car following today’s news? What’s your plan of attack?